Be Active Your Way Blog
Shellie Pfohl has spent her career focusing on teaming government with nonprofits and the private sector and as Executive Director of the PCFSN, she manages the activities and operations of the President's Council, an advisory committee to the President and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending one of the largest electronics shows in the world—the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada and experiencing the latest and greatest in active gaming. While we often associate technology with sedentary living as we text, email, or watch a screen, it can also be a tool for good. Active gaming is one way technology can encourage and promote physical activity and meet youth and adults wherever they are on the ability spectrum.
The Healthy People 2020 physical activity objectives include measures for screen time with the goal of limiting television or video game exposure to no more than 2 hours a day for youth ages 2-18 years old. However, that does not mean that the allotted 2 hours cannot include some active gaming—like active options that may be part of a comprehensive physical education curriculum.
Before attending CES I had an opportunity to see first-hand how active gaming can play a role in physical education at Kenny Guinn Middle School. Nestled within the 5th largest school district in the Nation, their physical education classes use active gaming as a way to help integrate special needs students with their peers. When the teacher asked who was excited to do some active gaming, everyone yelled “Me!” As the students rotated through the stations, I had the opportunity to work out with them. Very soon I realized that I couldn’t tell who was ‘challenged’ or not. To me they were all excited kids being active…jumping, kicking, and punching. No one was singled out or separated and each student participated to the best of their ability. And not only were they doing active gaming but they also learned about body mass index (BMI) by using bio impedence machines and ipods.
Keeping a level playing field is important as we work towards meeting the goals outlined in Healthy People 2020. Active gaming is a great way to meet youth where they are and is a fun way to promote sustained movement regardless of one’s age, fitness level or ability. After all, if my 88-year-old grandmother can play a bowling videogame and love it, I know I can too!
So, what is your favorite active game? And where do you see fitness technology taking us in the future?
**Image Caption: Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition getting her daily dose of physical activity the active gaming way with the students of Kenny Guinn Middle School, Las Vegas, NV.
www.pedbikeimages.org by Andy Hamilton
If you lived in a neighborhood where gunshots rang out every day and drug dealers loitered on your street every night, would you let your kids outside to play? Well, you’re not alone.
One of the reasons our children are not getting the minimum amount of physical activity they need is that physical education has been carved out of our schools, and many youth live in high-crime neighborhoods where their parents are afraid to let them go outside. So it’s no wonder that the national childhood obesity rate, especially in impoverished and underserved communities, has skyrocketed over the last 30 years and has now reached epidemic proportions.
A report conducted by the Trust for Public Land revealed that “crime drops when adequate parks and recreational activities are available in inner-city neighborhoods.” Many examples can be found in cities and towns throughout America where policymakers, law enforcement officials, community leaders, and residents have joined together with the park service and recreation facility owner-operators to take back their neighborhoods and make them safe.
Every summer in Phoenix, basketball courts and rec centers are kept open until 2 a.m. to encourage residents to be active with their neighbors. The city of Phoenix found that during the summer months, calls to police reporting juvenile crime incidents drop by as much as 55 percent.
Researchers at Columbia University reported that Boys or Girls Clubs in public housing projects reduced crime rates by 13 percent and drug use by more than 20 percent. Juveniles between the ages of 10-16 year olds who have a mentor, which is an important component of a quality after-school program like those of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, are 46 percent less likely to use drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking alcohol.
So we cannot afford for our kids to sit home and play sedentary video games after school. We must give them opportunities to participate in physical activity and make better food choices throughout the day. It is proven that physical activity and good nutrition help children perform better academically by increasing concentration and energy levels and boosting self confidence. Physical activity also hones their socialization skills, which enable young people to identify with peers, succeed in college or a vocation, and live happier and healthier lives.
That is why the President’s Council works closely with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to connect the public and private sectors with non-profit organizations and encourage them to develop sustainable programs to fight childhood obesity. Through the “Million PALA Challenge”—a joint physical activity campaign to get one million Americans to earn their Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) by September 2011—and initiatives like Let’s Move! Cities and Towns and Let’s Move Outside, we will make great strides to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family and one community at time. For more information, visit www.fitness.gov.
Williamson, D. (May 2000). Study: Crime, lack of PE, recreation programs lead U.S. adolescents to couch-potato lifestyles. UNC News Services. Retrieved from http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/jun00/popkin6060500.htm
The Trust for Public Land. (n.d.) Why we must invest in urban parks. Retrieved from http://www.tpl.org/tier3_cdl.cfm?content_item_id=888&folder_id=728
Riley, R., Peterson, T., Kanter, A., Moreno, G., & Goode, W. (2000). Afterschool programs: Keeping children safe and smart. Washington, DC: Child Trends.
Tags: President’s Council Physical Activity, Million PALA Challenge
As the Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition I am profoundly aware of the importance of making physical activity and nutrition accessible and affordable for all Americans, especially children. This is a multifaceted problem, and I’ll address several dimensions of this issue in this discussion.
Availability of facilities that provide healthy, affordable food in our communities is a necessity. If we do not have facilities within our neighborhoods where we can obtain fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices, then kids are going to continue to buy the Twinkies. We’ve got to incent our retail establishments to be able to come into communities. I think we’ve seen success where we’ve put forth the effort in this area.
The school environment has a strong influence on whether physical activity and nutrition are accessible to children. Kids spend a good part of their days, weeks, and years in school. We’ve got to continue pushing for policy change as it relates to physical education and school meals.
In many cases we are going in the wrong direction. Physical education is being cut out of schools, and it is so very important. Many states are passing policies mandating physical activity. This time could be recess, before or after school programs, or physical education. The unintended consequence we are hearing from school officials is “we are doing our 15 minutes of recess and then kids are walking between classes, so we are just going to cut PE because nobody said we have to do PE.” Physical education is a curricular area. It is an educational area that should be taught by a certified physical education teacher. It is not recess.
When advocates like myself come in and say we need more physical education, what we are really saying is we need more quality PE.
We know it can be done. Often we hear that test scores are the priority and we only have so many minutes in each school day, but we have examples of schools that have made it a priority where kids are getting 30 minutes of physical education every day and their test scores are increasing. For more information regarding this, reference the Centers for Disease Control and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education report on academics and physical education. There is an increasing body of research that shows definitively that kids who are physically active perform better academically. It can decrease their delinquency and behavioral issues, as well as help them concentrate so they tend to perform better on tests.
Has your organization worked to improve access to the health of America’s children through physical activity and nutrition? How? To learn how you can get involved, visit www.presidentschallenge.org and become a President’s Challenge Advocate today.
Note: The President’s Council’s name was recently changed by Executive Order from President Obama to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN) in recognition of the fact that good nutrition must go hand in hand with fitness and sports participation in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Tags: Children and Adolescents, children and physical activity, Community, environmental changes, physical education, President’s Challenge, school-based
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This page last updated on: 11/04/2009
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